My BFF: The Neighbor’s Cat – What a little “Meow” can do!

Meet the world’s friendliest cat… Hello Kitty! Kitty lives across the street from me. Using her amazing cat radar she will pop out of the funniest places whenever I’m outside. She’ll prance over loudly “meow, meow, meowing” to announce she’s on the way. Sliding up beside me she rolls over on her back asking me to read her mind (which I can)… “Well what are you waiting for? Pet me!”  Yesterday she wanted to see what was in my car so she jumped inside and took a tour while I unloaded groceries. When Pandora and I go for a stroll Kitty surprises us at our front door waiting to welcome us home. Kitty completely confuses Pandora. She’s never seen a cat behave like a dog and looks at her tentatively. Kitty’s not shy. She rubs up against Pandy and rolls over on her back… “Well what are you waiting for? Pet me!” Kitty can brighten anybody’s mood. It’s well-known (and scientifically proven) that interaction with a gentle, friendly pet has significant benefits: mental, emotional, physical. If you’re sad, lonely, or sick snuggle/cuddle time can help you feel better. If you don’t have a pet… offer to watch a friend’s pet, visit a shelter or pet store, or volunteer with an organization that helps animals. Maybe there’s an organization near you like PAWS for People™ (Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services, or PAWS) a non-profit organization committed to providing therapeutic visits to anyone who would benefit from interaction with a well-trained, loving pet. Below are some of the many ways animals bless our lives. The link gives more details information. 🙂

The Benefits of Pets & Pet Therapy:

For Mental Health…

  • The simple act of petting releases an automatic relaxation response
  • Lowers anxiety and helps people relax
  • Provides comfort
  • Reduces loneliness
  • Reduces a child’s distress in a doctor’s clinic
  • Reduces boredom
  • Decreases feelings of isolation and alienation
  • Brightens emotional outlook
  • Stimulates communication
  • Increases mental stimulation
  • Provides physical contact
  • Decreases agitation in Alzheimer’s units
  • Can provide an escape or distraction from the mundane nature of hospitals and doctor’s offices
  • Can act as catalysts in the therapy process

For Physical Health…

  • Lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health
  • Reduces the amount of medications some people need
  • Breathing slows in those who are anxious
  • Releases many hormones such as Phenylethylamine which has the same effect as chocolate (but not as tasty!)
  • Diminishes overall physical pain
  • Good for the animal too

In Physical Therapy…

  • Encourages increased movement in joints & faster recovery
  • Maintain & increase motor skills
  • Exercise longer
  • Relax more during exercise
  • May increase the benefits of occupational therapy

When Learning to Read (PAWS for Reading)…

  • Practice reading skills in a less stressful environment
  • Read to someone who is non-judgmental
  • Reduces self-consciousness and increases self-confidence

For Children with Autism…

  • Animal therapy may increase language use and social interaction
  • One study found that children with autism engaged in significantly greater use of language as well as social interaction in their occupational therapy sessions that incorporated animals compared to standard occupational therapy.
  • Many children with autism feel a deep bond with animals and feel that they are able to relate better to them.
  • Zachary, 5 year old child with autism, was more self-assured, took on new activities with curiosity, was more aware of his surroundings and the needs of people after meeting Henry, an 8 year old Australian cattle dog, and building a bond with him.

Full list of benefits with sources visit: Paws for People

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